The No. 5 Atlanta Hawks shrunk their first-round playoff series deficit to 2-1 on Saturday with a 116-98 Game 3 thrashing of the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Wizards point guard John Wall tied for the game high with 29 points, but Washington was unable to overcome an 18-point lead Atlanta built in the first quarter.
Forward Paul Millsap paced the Hawks with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while point guard Dennis Schroder scored 27 points with 20 of them coming in the first half, making Hawks history in the process, according to Hawks PR:
After dropping the first two games of the series, the Hawks appeared motivated Saturday, as they raced out to a 19-4 lead and never looked back.
They were especially proficient from behind the arc in the first quarter, as seen in this highlight package courtesy of the Hawks' official Twitter account:
Additionally, the Hawks got center Dwight Howard involved early, which is something they failed to do in the opening two games:
A bevy of Hawks players helped build the early lead, while Wall was essentially the only Wizard who came to play.
Per Nick Wright of Fox Sports, Wall was responsible for nearly all of the 20 points Washington scored in the first quarter:
As pointed out by Matt Moore of CBS Sports and Brad Rowland of Uproxx.com, Wall received little support from his teammates:
That included this highlight-reel dunk, courtesy of the NBA's official Twitter account, which was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise miserable effort by the Wiz:
Atlanta carried an 18-point lead into halftime, and while Washington began to cut into it in the second half, it was unable to contain Millsap.
After seeing their lead drop to 13 points, the Hawks seized back the momentum in the third quarter when Millsap made an incredible shot while getting fouled:
Washington made another run early in the fourth quarter to tighten things up, but it was once again unable to get the deficit below double digits before the Hawks got back to pouring it on.
Much of that was due to Millsap's having his way in the paint with the likes of Markieff Morris, Jason Smith and others:
Atlanta couldn't stop the Wizards defensively in the first two games of the series, but with the exception of Wall, Washington was shut down Saturday.
The Wizards shot just 41.6 percent from the field, while Bradley Beal and Morris were held to 12 and nine points, respectively.
To make matters worse, the Wizards announced that small forward Otto Porter Jr. left the game with a neck strain.
The Hawks are now very much back in the series, especially if they keep up the Game 3 level of defensive intensity along with the combination of Millsap and Schroder continuing to thrive offensively.
Following Saturday's bounce-back performance, Atlanta will have an opportunity to even the series at 2-2 Monday.